Author Interview with Nicholas Kinsley

Interview with Nicholas Kinsley

We’re taking time out to find out more about our newest novelist, Nicholas Kinsley. Kinsley’s first novel, Behind Locked Doors, a Victorian m/m bdsm love story, has gotten rave reviews. And he has three more stories already in progress with us.

Nick, you’ve been writing and editing three novels, working on a sequel, writing fan fiction, and pulling down top grades in college. All at the same time. When do you sleep?

Haha, it’s all about clever time management. When my sleeping schedule is regular, it’s usually from about 6am to 12pm.

Your novel Behind Locked Doors has just come out. Will you tell us a little bit about the book?

It’s a story about Edward Taylor, a factory owner, husband, and father who’s struggling to deal with his desire to submit, as well as with his preference for men in an incredibly restrictive time period. His feelings for his master, Isaac, go deeper than the average Dom-for-hire arrangement, and he worries that the situation is spiraling out of control, becoming a bit too dangerous. He doesn’t dare let things continue, but then he discovers Isaac returns his feelings and the prospect of being happy in a relationship for once is too good for him to turn away from. I loved writing the tension between the two men, especially the times they encountered each other in public. It was a relief when I could finally let Isaac show his feelings for Edward, not just in caring caresses during a scene but in actual words. We only see Edward’s point of view in the book, but Isaac was definitely experiencing some angst and struggle on his side, especially having to cater to other clients while he longed for Edward.

Why a Victorian setting for this story?

The idea for the story actually came about when I was listening to “Bang Goes the Knighthood” by The Divine Comedy, and it made me wonder about how a BDSM relationship would work during the time. I loved the thought of a man who couldn’t stop paying for such services despite the risks. The era was such a sexually repressed time and I wanted to explore this darker, kinkier side of it.

Your romantic leads are very well done. Did you have any trouble writing their families, and their families’ response to Edward and Isaac’s relationship?

It was harder to write Edward’s wife’s reaction to the relationship than his son’s. I had to really back up and think about Marie as a character, what women were like during the time and how it would affect her thinking. I also had to look back over her and Edward’s relationship up to that point, going all the way back to the roots. The final confrontation between them was rewritten many times before I felt I finally got it just right, and I owe a lot to a my friend who reads Victorian era pieces. I had a more clear-cut view of Peter in my head from the beginning. I’ve always been fascinated with apathetic, secretive children and children who fail to connect with their parents, and how a blood relation doesn’t always ensure a feeling of kinship. On top of that, I wanted Peter to not only sense the truth the way children often do, but to be smart, to see through Edward when no one else did. He sees that his father cares for him, but he also sees that Edward isn’t loving his mother the way he thinks she should be loved. As a child, he doesn’t understand the more complex reasons behind it all, only that his father isn’t making his mother happy. So when he finds out that Edward is with Isaac, it’s a shock but it’s also about what he expected from someone he didn’t really hold in the highest regard to begin with.

How much in this story was experience, how much research, and how much pure imagination?

A few of the BDSM scenes were experience, and was pretty much the only thing in the story that was. I admit I haven’t read many books containing BDSM elements, but those that I have almost always have the submissive go through a bit of a cooldown with the Dom and then that’s it, they’re back to themselves. I wanted to show another kind of D/s relationship, a little of how it is for me, how that feeling of subspace lingers a little even after being comforted by a Dom and how addicted to the feeling a sub can get. Isaac and Edward’s arrangement certainly involves pain, but Edward is the sort that needs to be owned as well. The historical bits and setting itself was all research, obviously, and involved lots of reading old texts, looking at old photos and maps. I also had to consult someone with regards to marriage since I’ve never been married, or had children. The plot itself was pure imagination.

When did you start writing, and what was your first story?

My mom would say I’ve been writing since I learned how to, but the first thing I remember actually sitting down at the computer to type up was a dream I had when I was nine. I woke up and thought I just had to get it down. Looking back on it now it was rather silly. It took place on another planet, where everyone’s skin was green and everyone’s name started with the letter G. It was very slice-of-life, and was about these three kids going to school, riding their bikes in the neighborhood, doing ordinary kid things, except of course they were aliens, which made it a bit more interesting. At some point there was going to be an adventure, but I never got around to it.

You’ve written quite a bit of fan fiction. What’s the biggest difference between writing fan fiction and writing pro fiction?

I often feel very restricted when writing fan fiction, because there are things I want the characters to do or say, and have to remember their base characteristics. I may have to tweak my original idea in order to make it fit, which can sometimes be hard to do. There’s still the opportunity to create a new world, but I’ve got these pre-made characters I have to situate in it. I’ve gotten the occasional hate in fandom for my characters being OOC, and I don’t blame them; it’s something I definitely struggle with. With pro fiction I have free rein. I can create the universe but also the people in it, which for me is sometimes the most fun part.

What do you do when you are not writing?

At the moment I’m in my last semester of community college, so when I’m not writing or reading I’m doing coursework. I’m also really into music and I play the guitar, but I haven’t written a song in ages and am a bit out of practice doing it. I’m currently living with my mom in Maryland, and helping her because she has a back injury that prevents her from working. I’ll be transferring to a school in Washington, DC this fall to major in Literature.

Who do you read for fun? How much have they influenced your writing?

I have a few authors that I’ve loved since childhood and guess I kind of grew up with. Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, then Chuck Palahniuk when I got to high school. Recently I’m really into HP Lovecraft. I enjoy the way they craft their stories. One thing I’ve always liked about Stephen King especially is the way his characters’ thoughts sometimes interrupt the narration. I think it’s such a clever technique, and incredibly realistic because people’s thoughts really are sudden and sometimes like an inner monologue. I prefer writing in third person but do like to incorporate character thoughts when I feel it’s necessary.

What does your writing process look like?

It usually starts with one idea that’s popped into my head and spiraled out of control, but before I do any writing I like to do world building. I think about my settings, get descriptions of all the locations down, then do the same with the characters. Once I’ve got all that, I let the writing start. By that point I’ve got a few plot points I know I want to happen, and it’s just a matter of connecting them with other scenes, smoothing over transitions.

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, do you have specific music for each story?

It depends on what I’m writing. If a scene is really heavy or something I need to focus on, background music, even lyricless music, is too distracting. Most of the time I do listen to music, though, and it does depend on what I’m writing. For instance, for my horror novel it was post-apocalyptic, dark ambient, industrial, creepy soundtrack type stuff. I needed to have haunting sounds in the background to keep myself in the mindset. For the historical piece it was more steampunk sounds, and music from the era.

You’ve written contemporary paranormal romance, Victorian era erotica, and zombie apocalypse romance. That’s a wide range of settings. How important is setting to your writing process?

Setting is incredibly important. When people recall memories, they don’t just recall what happened, but where it happened. Movies almost always begin with a shot of the scenery so viewers have an idea of where it will take place, even if it’s just in an empty room. It’s impossible to imagine a scene happening in a void, and I think the human mind will tend to fill in a background on its own, which is what happens to me whenever I’m struck with an idea. The background is kind of already there, albeit a bit vague. Before I get down to business and write, I need to define that vague, blurry, automatically rendered background into something solid so I can have a clear vision of where the action is going on, to really get inside the story. A lot of the time the setting will impact the story in some way as well, as is pretty evident with both the historical and horror pieces.

Do you come up with a person you want to write about first, and create a situation to bring out what’s interesting about that person, or does the situation come to you first, and you create characters to fit?

When an idea hits me, it usually strikes as a sort of movie scene in my head. The characters are already there in the situation. Sometimes I let them develop simultaneously with the scene and sometimes I have to step back to further define the characters to determine how they’d react. With stories I know are going to be longer, I do the whole world building thing first as I said before.

When writing romance, do you develop the involved characters separately and then put them together, or do you figure out what you want their relationship to be like first, and write backwards from there?

Depends on what I feel works best for the plot. Sometimes I feel it’s best to let a character’s interaction with others better define them as the relationship progresses and sometimes it works best if the reader has a bit of an idea of who they are before they get together. In Behind Locked Doors, you learn more about Edward, Isaac, and Marie through flashbacks because I felt it worked better to have the main characters already in an established relationship right from the beginning. In my horror novel, This is the Way the World Ends, the main characters Blaine and Andrew develop separately and go through their own struggles before meeting. Because they each bring their own baggage to the relationship, they have a rougher course to navigate than they would otherwise,  and it was important to me to that readers get a feel for that, to sort of get inside the characters’ heads first.

Some authors prefer to plot everything out ahead of time, some like to start with a character or a situation and see where it leads them. Which kind of writer are you? Outline? Discovery? A little of both?

If it’s just a short thing I’m doing for fun, I’ll let myself kind of wing it and see where it leads me. If it’s longer and something I’m serious about, I approach it more carefully, which is what I do most of the time lately. It’s hard to keep track of little things like who has freckles and who has a weird mannerism when working on a longer piece. This is the Way the World Ends, for example, is the first book in a trilogy. I had to do a lot more than just flesh out my characters and setting; I had to do a rough outline of the whole story arc, take into account events that seem trivial in the first novel but might have major consequences in the next. With something like that, having an outline is crucial.

Is there anything you feel your characters’ romances would be incomplete without, some aspect of the relationship that you have to include?

My favourite part of any relationship, romantic or otherwise, is the process of finding out all the little things you like about the other person. It’s nice to find something, some quirk of personality, that you really adore. In Behind Locked Doors it could be a number of things—when Edward finds out that Isaac is a writer, or when Edward sees Isaac laughing and elegantly dressed at the theatre, for example. When Edward makes a joke the first time in Isaac’s presence, Isaac is pleasantly surprised because he didn’t know Edward could be humourous. I love it when my characters latch onto things in their partner and think “That, that’s what I love about you.”

What else do you have coming up with

My next work coming up is Driven, another M/M novel, but set in modern times. It’s got a bit of a paranormal aspect to it in that one of the main characters, Mitchell, has a psychic ability: ferrokinesis, or the power to bend metal. He’s a mechanic and owns a garage, but he also works for a powerful crime lord named Kane making getaway cars and cars to be used in illegal street races. The other main character, Trevor, is a bit taken with Mitchell, but Mitchell is hesitant to start a relationship with him because of the obvious strain he’s under with Kane. The other work is set a few years in the future during a zombie apocalypse. It’s a horror novel that’s much more action-based. I also have a new short story called Top Notch under contract, which is set in the fictional suburb of Bentonbury and focuses on eighteen-year-old Casey Hawthorne. He’s a bit of a punk, all tough on the outside and considerably less so on the inside. He picks up a guy named Lucas for a bit of fun and the story is all about Lucas’s effect on him and his effect on Lucas.

We can expect a lot more from Nicholas Kinsley!

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